"the whiteboy wants to be like wants not to thought of as weird. the whiteboy wants to be dug. felt, thought of as fresh. the whiteboy wants his name synonymous with dope."
I spent a good portion of my childhood living among the corn fields far west of Chicago. The music surrounding me was either Country and Western or Classic Rock. I knew nothing else until an older girl named Ann moved in across the street. Her parents sent her to live with her Aunt because she was getting into too much trouble in the City. She wore the biggest pants I had ever seen, each pair said Cross Colours on the back. She dressed like no one else and I was mesmerized. Everyday I would watch get into her car carried a huge case logic cassette tape holder. It had to hold at least 50 tapes. As soon as the car started the music would blast. It would vibrate my windows, but I would hear no guitars or singing I would hear beats and rhymes. After a weeks I finally made inside Ann's room, and my love of hip hop has been in effect ever since. She had posters everywhere, Blacksheep, Too Short, D-Nice, Krs-One, EPMD, and so on. Even though Ann was white and we were still surround by corn, I felt out of place. I felt like I would never be as cool, confident, rugged, as the emcees on those posters. However, one poster jumped out at me. I pointed to it and asked who was that. Ann said it was Mc Search, and she handed the "The Cactus Album". I guess I was just a "Product of The Environment".
The latest collection from Kevin Coval, L-Vis Lives!, takes an in-depth look at the feel of wanting to belong in a world that feels like yours, but also can feel so foreign. It is a collection of poems about a lifetime of borrowed beats and sounds, styles and fashion, but also about not really knowing how to live any other way. Many of the poems center around an imaginary emcee named L-Vis. We see L-Vis as both genuine and a copycat, sincere and a thief, but in it we see a microcosm on music and culture as a whole. Both are a continually cycle of sampling, covering, copying, loving, until one you create your own. However, is it really ever you own?
L-Vis Lives! reads as if you are listen to a hip hop album. Coval's flow is in top form and is so captivating that you won't want to put the book down unless it is to dig out you 3rd Bass album or perhaps your Aesop Rock or Sage Francis CD. The collection is being released today, Sept. 13th, by Haymarket Books, and you can catch Kevin reading from it live tomorrow night, Sept. 14th at The Metro.
Favorite line: "we want poems that tie Billy Collins to a chair and beat him."